MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - We finally know why the FBI has been searching the home and business of Tennessee State Senator Katrina Robinson.
Federal prosecutors announced embezzlement and theft charges against the 39-year-old after someone filed an anonymous complaint in 2016 that she used grant funds to buy a Louis Vuitton handbag.
“It is believed that if I were not in the position that I’m in, if I did not champion the voices, the views and the faces that I represent that I would not be in this moment I’m in today,” said Robinson.
The initial complaint began a nearly four-year investigation into money received for the “The Healthcare Institute” just off Winchester Road where Robinson is the director.
According to the criminal complaint, Robinson applied for a federal grant to train nursing assistants to work with geriatric patients in March 2015.
U.S. Attorney Michael Dunavant says Robinson stole $600,000 of the more than $2.2 million grant money.
It was all money Robinson allegedly spent on clothes, trips, cars and her children's snow cone business among other things.
The criminal complaint shows more than $16,000 spent on electronics at a Best Buy, $46,000 for property Robinson purchased on Boengshire Road and more than $8,000 for Grizzlies tickets.
Investigators say Robinson spent over $5,000 of grant funds for her 2016 wedding, and another $14,000 to pay her divorce attorneys in 2017.
We first learned about the investigation in February when federal agents first showed up at Robinson’s school.
In July a magistrate judge signed off on the federal charges.
Robinson's attorney wants to remind the public that these are all allegations.
"Senator Robinson has a story to tell. She's eager to tell that story and we believe once all the facts come out and her story is told she will be vindicated," said her attorney Janika White.
Robinson was elected to the Tennessee State Senate in 2018.
The Tennessee Democratic caucus released this statement saying in part:
“It is clear that Sen Robinson’s work in the state legislature on behalf of her constituents is not in question here today. Just like every other American, Sen Robinson deserves the presumption of innocence and due process under the law.”